Why Mike Lee’s embrace of the 'MAGA mob' could be his downfall: conservative

Why Mike Lee’s embrace of the 'MAGA mob' could be his downfall: conservative

Never Trump Republican-turned-Independent and former CIA officer Evan McMullin, who ran for president in 2016, is running for office again — this time, as a U.S. Senate candidate in Utah, where he will be taking on incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Lee in the 2022 midterms. And Never Trumper Jennifer Rubin, in an October 6 column for the Washington Post, applauds McMullin for jumping in the race.

Deep red Utah has two Republican U.S. senators: Lee and Sen. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who lost to President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election (Rubin voted for him) but won by a landslide when he ran for the U.S. Senate via his adopted home of Utah in 2018. Rubin, in her column, argues that while Romney has had the guts to stand up to former President Donald Trump, Lee has taken "the path of least resistance" where Trump is concerned.

"Lee, unlike his fellow Utah senator, Mitt Romney, has repeatedly tried to stay in the good graces of the MAGA mob rather than stand up for the Constitution," Rubin explains. "The reason for doing so may rest in part with his conviction that no Democrat could ever beat him in the deep-red state, so all he needs to do is protect his right flank. Well, this week, he learned that refusal to stand up for democracy — either during the impeachment trials or in any other aspect of Trump's corrupt, lawless presidency — might come with a price."

Running for the U.S. Senate on a right-wing anti-Trump platform would be a steep uphill climb in most red states considering Trump's iron grip on the Republican Party, and it won't be easy for McMullin. But when McMullin ran for president in 2016, he received 21% of the vote in Utah compared to 45% for Trump and 27% for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Nationally, McMullin received only 0.4% of the vote in 2016 — trailing Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein — but he fared much better in Utah.

Rubin argues, "If a Democrat cannot win in one of the reddest states, a former CIA officer who has not spared the Biden presidency from criticism might have a shot…. Utah voters who care about the future of democracy and want a senator, not a partisan flunky, will benefit from a more principled, independent voice in the Senate. McMullin has an uphill climb, but Republicans wanting to break free of the MAGA grip — as well as independents and Democrats — should cheer the arrival of a viable center-right candidate."

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